There are three perennial flowers that are found on most farms in the state of Kansas. This includes peonies, iris, and daylilies. Peonies grow well in Kansas, and will flourish with very little care. And, fall is the best time to divide or transplant peonies to share with other family members and neighbors.

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Dividing Peonies to Share

If we’re just trying to give a start to a neighbor or to give to our kids to take to their new house, we can just dig into a clump. Take the shovel and just bite down a part of it, and it will actually dig and divide the peony in the ground.

If you take the soil off, you can see where I just cut through it, and we’ll have a nice new clump here. Just like that, it’s ready to go. If you look closely here, you’ll see a little bump that’s a red color, and here’s a white one. Here’s another one here… and here. These are called eyes. The ideal piece to divide off has three to five eyes which is what we’ll find in most garden centers. Very often, this time of year you can get them with bare root like this.

You can see I cut a lot of roots. But that’s not a problem because this year’s roots are going to start dying. In late October or early November they start to grow new roots for next year. Which is why now is the ideal time to go ahead and dig, and we won’t do any damage.

When we plant them in the ground, we have all these roots. Some of them will be broken in the digging process, but don’t worry too much about them. When you go back in the hole, if the top (where the eyes are) is more than two inches below the surface, it may not bloom. So, be very careful to keep it up near the surface, almost having the eyes exposed.

Then, come back in and around with soil and cover the roots. If anything, you’ll want a little bit extra showing. When in doubt, stay too shallow. It won’t hurt the plant by being almost just set on the top of the soil. But it will definitely hurt the plant if you go too deep. So, plant peonies shallow in well drained soil and full sun, and they should do fine.

This feature story prepared with Alan Stevens, former Kansas State University Research and Extension State Leader, Horticulture. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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